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Being ready is not what matters. What matters is winning after you get there.-- Lieutenant General V.H. Krulak
23rd Iowa Infantry8524 Reads
I, George Barker, enlisted in Company F., at Clarinda, Iowa, August 9, 1862, Volunteer, 23rd regiment, which was organized at Des Moines 1/4 mile northeast of the capitol building. We stayed and drilled until September 19, 1862 at which time we were sworn in service for 3 years, unless sooner discharged.
In less than a hour we were on the road to Eydville and Keokuk, Iowa. In a few days we left Keokuk to go to St. Louis, MO, where we stayed a few weeks before being transferred to Iron Mts., MO. We were at Iron Mts. a few weeks and then went to Patterson, MO. On January 9, 1863 we left Patterson for various points in the Ozarks. We kept moving southward from point to point until we reached West Plains, MO, where about 10 inches of snow fell after we arrived. We lived in canvas tents, slept on leaves with 3 blankets over us and were cold for 10 days and nights. After staying at West Plains about 3 weeks, we were ordered back, going a westward route. Coming to a valley we camped and stayed several weeks to be handy if needed in battle. Then moving back to Iron Mts. we stayed there a month and then were ordered to go to St. Genevieve, north on the Mississippi River. We were there a week and were ordered to New Madrid, MO. We were in sight of Island #10 - Mississippi River, where the rebels had been driven out the year before. After a few weeks we were transferred to Millikenís Bend, LA, 20 miles up the river from Vicksburg. Here we stayed until April when we were ordered south, near Grandville. We saw the bombardment of Grand Gulf. Trees could be seen at a distance of 3 miles which the guns had cut off. A darky slave told me that he and his master were side by side and his master was blown to pieces, while he escaped injury. April 30th we crossed the river at Bruinsburg, Mississippi, and began to march eastward toward Port Gibson, in an all day and all night march. We met the enemy 3 miles northeast of Port Gibson near a country church. Next morning, May 1, 1863, the battle of Port Gibson commenced. The battle raged until 4 p.m. when the firing ceased and the Confederate Commander came out with the white flag of truce. They wanted help from us to remove their wounded and dead. We lost 140 or more. Killed and wounded -- 500 on both sides. May 2, we marched over the battlefield where the dead lay thick. We were on the way to Port Gibson for four days arriving there May 14th. The 15th we were ordered to march back over the same ground. The Championís Hill battle began the 16th. My company was held in reserve, but we were in the center, ready for action. The right and left wing fought hard. After the battle, we were ordered forward. Coming out in the open, there was a beautiful 10 acre yard with a mansion on it. The ground was covered with wounded and dead -- from the terrible battle. We marched on from there and came to Edward Station on Big Black river. Next day we prepared to take fortifications at Big Black bridge. We charged on May 17, 1863. We took 3,000 prisoners -- with the loss of 163 from our regiment. Our Commander Col. Wm. R. Kinsman, 23 regiment, was killed. We started May 19 and marched the prisoners to Yazoo River, landing and loading them on the ships and taking them to Memphis. When we unloaded we returned to Youngís Point May 22, and stayed until June 6. We were then ordered to go 20 miles up the river to Millikenís Bend. We remained on the boat overnight and at daybreak we heard the pickets firing. Men were ordered off the boat to form lines quickly and meet the army at the rifle pit. There the battle was fought just at sun up June 7, 1863. We won the battle; seventy of the Confederates were killed: 23 of my regiment and 18 colored men, were killed. A total of 111 killed on both sides. We stayed there a few days and then were ordered to rear where we joined our brigade in the rifle pits at Vicksburg. We stayed until July 4th when they surrendered at 10 a.m. I was in the line of battle with my equipment on waiting with the 100,000 men on our side for the charge. All were waiting to see whether Gen. Pemberton would accept the offer that Gen. Grant made him at 10 a.m., July 4th. All were ready to charge but at 10 a.m. the white flags went up in every direction. The Confederates marched in front of the fortifications, stacking their arms and equipment laying them on the grass. This was the solemnist time I ever witnessed. Now we were to rout the great armies that had congregated east of Jackson. It took several days to drive these armies away. After that we went back to Vicksburg on the southwest corner and stayed about a month, then went south on the Mississippi River and landed at Corrollton, on the east side of the Mississippi River. In September, 20,000 went under review to see the condition of Gen. Grantís army. I was furloughed for 30 days so went home and had 30 more days added because I was unable to return. While furloughed -- my company was sent to Tische, LA, in November 1863, to rout the enemy -- as they were gathering to make trouble. Our armies dispersed. They returned to Corrollton and from there were ordered to take ship and go down the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico to Brownsville, Texas. Doing scouting work along the coast until they came to Matagorda Island. I got back with my company on April 3, 1864, and left April 27th, landing at New Orleans where we stayed a few days before going up the Mississippi River into the mouth of the Red River to Fort Duressa, LA. Here we stayed a night or two and were fired on, so were told to go down the river to help get soldiers across to help Gen. Banks. With ships put side by side we crossed over. We had a battle the day we were crossing and captured 300 soldiers. The battle was at Atchafalaya River and lasted a half a day. From there we marched down to (Morganza) Bend by the Mississippi River. In July we went up the river to the mouth of the White River to St. Charles, Arkansas, and stayed two nights and then back to (Morganza) Bend where we remained a month. We then went up the White River to De Valls Bluff and stayed until Jan. 5, 1865, when we made winter quarters at Lone Oak. We left to go to Kemersville, LA, and stayed until Feb. 1865. We received orders to take shipping for Fort (Morganza) , and were there until Mar. 10, 1865. Besieged day and night until their surrender on April 8, 1865. We marched to Fort Blakely but they had surrendered. We were on the banks of Tom Bigby river when we heard that Lee had surrendered. We took sail for Mobile and I was sick one month there in the hospital -- went in June 18, and out July 18, 1865. From here I went to New Orleans then to Cairo, IL. At Cairo, took inspection and received papers to go home. Took train from Cairo to Davenport, IA. Received discharge, pay and stacked arms. I then came the 30 miles to DesMoines by team where we hired a man to take us to Corning.
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